Sunday, November 1, 2015

Carousels and Roller Coasters

Remember your first visit to an amusement park?  If you were like most of us, your eyes were drawn to the bright lights and colors. You were enticed and entranced by the overly sweet smell of cotton candy mixed with the saltiness of popcorn. And the sounds!  The lilting music of the carousel and the rattle of the roller coaster overhead. All of this mingled with the sound of laughter and the squeals of fright and delight. 

Where did you begin? Were you drawn to the brightly colored horses on the carousel, suspended in time and motion? They seemed to be moving in time to the music, but in reality, they just kept going in circles.  Parents were always nearby to protect you from falling and soothe your fears. It appeared very predictable and safe.

Or were you drawn to the excitement and thrill of the roller coaster?  It lulled you into complacency on the steep climb to the top and then plunged you into the frightening unknown. There were no parents to protect you through the jerks and bumps or the sharp twists and turns.  You had to hang on tight and face your fears until you finally screeched to a stop safely back where you started. Then your momentary fear was quickly forgotten and you couldn't wait to start the journey all over again.

I like to think of this as a metaphor for the paths we choose in life. However, sometimes those choices are taken out of our hands. One may prefer the safe predictability of the carousel, and then suddenly find himself or herself on a roller coaster of unpredictability.  Life is like that. Our tendency is to turn and run back to the safety and security of the past. But the way back is blocked. There is no turning back. The key to our success in this new endeavor lies in whether we are able to change and cope with this sudden change in our circumstances. Those who cling to the safety of the past will find it difficult to adjust.  They will be miserable. Those who let go and make the effort to adapt to the change and face their fears are more likely to persevere and overcome their fears.

This is the predicament in which I place my characters.  They must navigate their way through life and deal with unexpected hardships as well as changes in social and political mores. They experience the extreme highs and lows of life.  Their struggles reflect those most common in life:  relationships, prejudice, financial security. But most of all, the characters must struggle with their own moral dilemmas. They must adapt or perish. 

Do the characters choose the path of righteousness or the path of least resistance? What motivates their choices? Do we respect or condemn them for their choices?  These are the questions only the readers can answer. And in so doing they will reveal a bit more about the values and morals that affect their own choices in life.